It’s one thing to make technology sexy, but how can you make it funny? Lamarr Wilson does that, which makes him the “World’s Funniest Tech Reporter.”
Having started out as an educator, and later owning his own consulting business that helped teachers integrate technology into classrooms, he has used humor to get his point across to students and educators alike. Wilson discovered vlogging on YouTube in 2008, and after buying an HD camera and under his Wilsontech1 channel, he rants, raves and laughs at the latest in technology and pop culture Monday through Friday. After moving to Los Angeles last year, he has since branched out to other gigs such as co-hosting Shira Lazar’s “What’s Trending” and working as a correspondent for Leo Laporte’s TWiT Network.
We caught up with Wilson in Los Angeles where he regaled us with his fascination for all things technology, talked about his favorite pizza and told us what he really thinks about YouTube culture.
So you just moved here from Chicago recently — how are you adjusting to Hollywood?
Lamar Wilson: Hollywood is crazy. I’m from a big city already so coming here wasn’t a huge deal in terms of — well, actually the traffic is worse here. Traffic is like Satan here; it’s definitely worse, but no, the life is good. There are a lot more YouTubers here, so I get to do a lot more things. In Chicago I was lonely and crying and curled up in a ball all by myself, and I couldn’t do anything, but now I get to pretend like I have a life. It’s great.
What makes shooting in your apartment so special as opposed to just being in a studio with all the wonderful equipment?
I think it just makes it a lot more personal. I don’t think people on YouTube, the audience, wants a show. They want just to see how some dude lives and what he thinks about in his own personal life, so that’s what I try to bring. That’s why I shoot at an angle where they see my couch and my brand new chair [laughs] and everything, so they kind of just see, “Hey, this is his home. He’s talking about tech and entertainment, and it’s fun!”
Since you came here you also got a role as a co-host for Shira Lazar’s “What’s Trending.”
I love Shira Lazar.
And also Leo Laporte’s TWiT network. How do you manage to have all these gigs while still doing your show?
I don’t sleep. That’s it. There is no sleep involved. [laughs] With the co-hosting thing, she’ll call me up and say, “Hey, can you co-host this week? Can you co-host this date?” And I try to be as open and available as possible. I love “What’s Trending” and “This Week in Tech” and those TWit networks. I’ve kind of met Leo through other channels and he loves having me out, so when I have some breaking YouTube news I’ll message him and say, “I’ll be a good guy to put on the show,” so I’ll push myself on him to be on his show when I can.
Going back to your YouTube channel, why has technology fascinated you so much to the point that you’re making these videos for this audience?
Going back for years when I got my first job in tech working at a Best Buy, when they first opened Best Buy — which is showing my age slightly [laughs] — I started working with them in ‘94 when they opened up a brand new one, and I was just fascinated. The store was huge, computers were just brand new, and I always wanted to be part of stuff that was new, so since then, I ran my own computer business, I ran my own consulting business, and I did technology for a school system. I’ve always been a part of tech and mostly consumer tech, like helping people, showing them how to use things. It’s kind of translated really well over to YouTube. It’s essentially doing the same thing; I’m helping them understand it in a way that is humorous but that they understand it in an easier way.
Did you find your sense of humor while you were back in your days of Best Buy?
Yeah, I had it there, but I was still a little timid there. But what really kind of opened me up was working in a school. You have 30, 40 kids in front of you, you have to be funny. My jokes were awful, but they laughed [laughs]. I was like, “Hey, in the future this would be great on video!” No, I didn’t say that back then. I don’t know, but it really started working in the school.
And so you worked in schools, you’ve had your own company …
It’s been a busy…I’ve done a lot in my 19 years on this Earth. Nah, it’s 35, I’m just playin’ [laughs]. Yeah, I’ve worked in an elementary school, I’ve taught every grade from K to 8th. I left there because I was kind of irritated with how the school system started turning more political versus just helping kids. And a lot of the kids weren’t getting technology, especially in the inner city weren’t getting technology training properly because teachers were scared to use it. So if they didn’t want to use it then the kids wouldn’t know about it, so these inner city kids were always behind. So I started my own company basically to try to reach as many schools as possible with teaching teachers. I use humor with them, I try to relax them and say this is not a big deal, and they loved the workshops that I did, so I kind of tested my humor so to speak with the kids and then with the adults, and it kind of merged to YouTube.
Tell me how you began your career on YouTube.
Oh my. It’s weird. It was like January 2008. I bought myself a camera, a nice HD; I spent about 1,200 bucks, and I was like, “Yeah, I want to do video so I can enhance my business.” The camera sat for 11 months in my little cabinet; I never used it. And I went to a workshop from well-known YouTuber Chris Pirillo. He was doing a social media workshop, and that is when I started hearing more about this YouTube thing. And then one day I was watching UStream — in 2008 he was normally on UStream. That was his thing, but I saw these two guys, they were on there instead, and they were just talking about their YouTube channels and how they vlog, and I’m like, “What’s vlog? What is this thing that they do?” And they were talking about it and showing clips, so I subscribed and then I went back to UStream and I was like, “Hey guys, guess what? I subscribed — what does this mean? I have no idea.” They’re like, “You’ll get our videos,” and I went through and watched like 20 of their videos each, and I just fell in love with the format, and I said, “I have to do this.” And so I end up trying it, and slowly I ended up being friends with them and slowly just got a little bit more popular. I had no idea that I was going to do this. I was content with my business. This came out of nowhere; it was just an accident.
So what were your early videos like?
Yes, I’m glad you asked that because unfortunately I had closed my account one or two times, so those videos are gone. They were just like everyday vlogs. It was just me sitting in a chair like this talking to a camera just like this and just talking about random things that came up, whether I was talking about a video game or something I heard in the news, things that were happening in my life. It was very similar to how I do now. It’s just much more — it wasn’t as professional; it wasn’t polished at all. But I was gaining an audience really with that, and I decided to start this show called the “School Tech TV Show” where I was targeting people who were in school who want to learn about technology.
You bill yourself as “The World’s Funniest Tech Reporter.”